Since 1995, millions of worms have given their lives in the name of entertainment. Whether maimed by sheep, old women, or balls (golf or dragon, your pick), their deaths have often been tragically over-the-top and hilariously funny. Unfortunately, there has been at least one new Worms game per year since 2004, causing some critics to question whether Team 17 are milking a classic series or if a health crate is just in reach. With some major changes on the way in Worms Revolution – now available to pre-order on Steam ahead of its release next month – the developers hope to keep the core mechanics while bringing in a new generation of Worms fans.
The most striking difference, especially if you came into the franchise with the hugely popular Worms Armageddon 2, is in the graphics. A new 3D engine has been utilised to create our new wormy world, although the game is still played on a 2D plane. This makes for some interesting visual points, but the worms themselves can look a little silly. The background and destructive environments have never looked better, though, and the amount of colour in the game is surpassed only by the action. Matt Berry, the strong-voiced actor best known for his work in cult hit Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The I.T. Crowd, provides the narration, and if you know the sort of work he does, expect more of the same; it’s a little hit or miss at times, but mostly hit.
The graphics and the narration are all rather well done, but it does nothing to what makes up the bulk of the game: shooting things. The basic formula remains untouched; players take turns hurtling various explosives across a large map in the hopes that it’ll connect with something soft, wriggly, and pink. There are some new additions that change the way some people will play, though. Firstly, there’s a new class system, which some will see as a new dawn for the franchise, while others won’t realise it’s even in the game. Each of the four classes of worm is slightly different – some are faster, some are better at mêlée attacks – and each will force you to play in a slightly different way, but while it’s a nice addition, it’s hardly game-changing.
The same could be said for the new “physics” features, which basically boil down to the new ways in which the worms interact with water. Destroying the ground underneath or surrounding a patch of water will see that water run out of the newly blown hole and downwards, washing away any worms in its path. It’s good for the occasional tactical move, but it’s not a big enough change to improve the base gameplay. There aren’t many opportunities in which you’ll find flooding an area a better strategy than simply bombing the hell out of it – not unless it’s a clear downhill slope into the ocean or towards a mine or something – and I can’t see it massively changing the way in which Worms vets choose to play.
The changes are welcome and well-implemented, but basically optional, and I’d say it doesn’t quite change up proceedings enough to warrant getting super excited. For people on the fence, the overly long tutorial might be enough to make you give up on the series entirely. The base game, however, is meaty enough to keep you going for weeks if you enjoy it, and high quality enough to be well worth a look. What started as a simple comic artillery game has kept the same basic gameplay but has just complicated things exponentially and its initial charm might be lost under all of the choices you’ll need to make. Still, there aren’t many actual flaws to talk of and there aren’t many games – part of an overly flaunted franchise or otherwise – that can claim that.